SIX TO TRACK FROM THE INTERNATIONAL MEETING
The only four-year-old in the field, Gallic import Highest Sun matched strides comfortably with the leaders until failing to find an extra gear on the run down to the last flight, finishing fourth to Al Dancer.
This was only his second start for Colin Tizzard and there is definite talent to nurture this season.
Although Wicked Willy has won four times for Nigel Twiston-Davies, he had looked out of sorts until this much more encouraging third to strong-traveller Aaron Lad.
Jordan Nailor had the gelding in front briefly at the final flight but, edging left under pressure, Wicked Willy had no more to give.
He would probably have preferred a slower surface.
The outcome barely registered a ripple in the ante-post books for the JCB Triumph Hurdle in March but the form looks reliable, with Fanfan Du Seuil improving from his Exeter victory last month when still looking a bit green.
Twice a winner on soft ground last January, Jenkins could have done with the rain arriving an hour or two earlier.
Cheek-pieces were worn this time but both those successes last winter came with blinkers applied, so that remains an option.
At his best on a sound surface, Mr Medic ran a cracker for Robert Walford on the worsening ground.
James Best nursed Mr Medic into a lovely rhythm, the one blemish coming when walloping the fourth-last as Frodon set a remorseless gallop.
Up 9lb for beating Flying Angel at Ascot the previous month, Mr Medic back-pedalled in the straight to finish a weary sixth but he’ll be winning again under his optimum conditions.
Although Western Ryder had a bit to find on official figures, it didn’t stop punters wading in, possibly on the basis of his strong course form.
Western Ryder easily reversed Supreme Novices’ Hurdle form with the disappointing Summerville Boy and a return to slightly less exalted company should do the trick.